The Last American President

Whatever happens in the watershed of the American Presidential election set to be decided in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, one thing is very certain: America will never be the same again. The repugnant GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has made sure of that.

Never in the history of America, perhaps with the only exception of their brutal Civil War from 1861 to 1865, had the nation been as deeply polarized as it is today, with just a few hours before voters who did not take the advantage of the early voting system in the eligible states, troop out to have their say.

This, very easily, has been a Presidential campaign without parallel in American history.  Trump made sure of that. Not only has his campaign been the most divisive in content and character, he, somehow, also found a way to disenfranchise the Republican Party’s traditional landlords by cultivating and exploiting the emotions of the extreme right elements of America’s social spectrum.

His campaign was unashamedly predicated on the most extreme form of xenophobia and the crude exploitation of fear. On the surface, his campaign slogan is to “Make America Great Again”, but stripped of all pretences, his intention is to “Make America White Again”, if he could. And Trump has a lot to worry about in that regard given the fact that his father was reported to be a supremo of the Ku Klux Klan.

In the past three decades the steady migration of minorities into the American whether by legal or illegal means, drastically impacted demographic make-up of the nation and by implication the voting patterns across the nation. Suddenly, America was beginning to resemble a rainbow nation to the consternation of the previously predominant Caucasian majority. Trump, and the aging American white suburban population who idolize him will not admit it, but it seems as if the last straw in the gradual transformation of the nation was the election of the first African-America President in Barack Obama. Indeed, the ‘Birther’ movement which Trump founded to question Obama’s citizenship was the first move towards rejection of the incumbent President’s legacy. It also created the foundations for Trump’s candidacy for the Presidency.   

It is to the disillusioned and largely non-college educated Caucasian population in the rural suburbs, with their nostalgic view of a predominantly ‘white’ America, that Trump has directed his profoundly primitive and abusive campaign. They constitute the core of his support base. Their grouse is not about the state of the American economy which recovered superbly from the recession under Obama in any instance.

Their problem is with the trend of immigration of minority groups into America especially if it also involves a few Muslims from Syria! Their opposition to Hilary Clinton has much less to do with Obama-care, or the much publicised use of a private server as a conduit for her official emails.

That is why the idea of the wall Trump promised to construct on the Mexican border, and his intended ban on Muslims entering the United States, easily resonated with them. In their warped imagination, both moves would help to reclaim America from its internal predators. The wall, and the ban, will protect them from those who neither looked, nor worshipped like them.

A Trump victory will also halt the gradual erosion of their grip on the levers of power through the democratic process. In their desperate illusion, Trump has suddenly acquired the semblance of a Moses that will ultimately lead them to the Promised Land. So strong is the Trump brand among this group of Americans who will not let go of the past.

Their grouse is not about the cost of Obama-care or unemployment which is at its lowest level in recent times in any case. In their quest to reform America in the way they desire, they remain unperturbed if some of the rhetoric, and ideas, attributed to Trump, risked shaking the very foundations of American democracy on account of their unworkability. The end, it seems, justifies the means to this group regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. With Trump as their vanguard, even the Alt-Right, the most extreme among the right-wing socio-political groups suddenly felt confident enough to emerge from the shadows to join his coalition. He has provided them with a platform on which to stomp!

But they have a big problem. They, alone, cannot remake America in their exact image like Trump has promised them is possible in this day and age. To make the unprecedented transition from big business and reality TV to the White House, Trump would have to convince the large voting groups outside the Caucasian fold made up of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians (people of colour, for short) and it won’t be an easy task. 

These are same groups he openly denigrated repeatedly on the campaign trail at different times. Beginning with the primary elections in his own party, Trump has broken every rule of engagement in the process of selecting presidential candidates in the history of American presidential elections.

He abused women and revealed how he feels they should be treated in unprintable terms. He has called them pigs among other profanities. He insulted handicapped people and trashed various ethnic minorities as he pleased. In normal circumstances, even for America, the very idea of a Trump candidacy would have been curtailed months before it crystalized. As it were, he actually succeeded in pulling the rug from the feet of mainstream republicans who could have done more to stop him from the beginning.

When former President George W. Bush recently remarked that he believes he could be the last Republican President in America, he actually expressed a genuine and widespread fear that is growing among mainstream Republicans who despise Trump but are unwilling or reluctant to go the desired length to stop him.

In the opinion of Bush, Trump’s unprecedented campaign has so upset minorities and people of colour in America, the Republican Party, which provided him with a platform to peddle his bile, may have alienated them for generations to come, if not for eternity. The big question then remains: why did they not do more to stop him?

The racial undertones in this presidential campaign has been palpable. It is also the primary reason why many the Republican Party has had little option but to tolerate Trump even when they hardly agreed with his radical views.

Trump has not only energized and infused his base with unbridled enthusiasm, given all that has also transpired on the campaign trail, no one can ascertain the exact electoral value of his supporters with any degree of certainty until the final votes are counted early tomorrow morning.

The state of the race is such that even the Republicans who disliked Trump – among whom are a posse of Senators and Congressmen seeking re-election, cannot be too sure of how the pendulum would swing and have tarried on the part of caution. They cannot be sure of how many inactive Republican voters have been energised by Trump’s rhetoric to return ‘home’ to vote for him in such sufficient numbers as to tilt the election in his favour.

And so, in the final analysis, the world is condemned to hold its breath in the next twenty-four hours to see if Americans will make the worst mistake in their history by electing Donald Trump. Although the polls have repeatedly showed that Hilary Clinton is in the lead, the nature of the American presidential elections is such that the prospect of a Trump Presidency cannot entirely be ruled out.

Although I also have issues with Hilary, I still believe she is of a better constitution and certainly is more prepared for the office than Trump. She is more representative of the America I know. By contrast, a Trump presidency could unleash serious constitutional crisis in America if he follows through with most of his campaign promises. If he wins, he could be the last American President. My money is Hilary Clinton. She seems destined to break the proverbial glass ceiling unless Americans contrive to take leave of their senses to vote for Trump!